By BEN SANCHEZ
Business Journal Writer
STOCKTON — Marcie Delacruz and Jamie Rodriguez, founders of Shades of Color, never took art lessons when they attended a paint-and-sip event in the Bay Area around 2015.
The paint-and-sip trend is a unique, social experience happening nationwide in bars and restaurants, offering an alternative for people seeking a creative adventure. The idea is simple: get local artists to teach people how to paint and provide them will all the materials.
“I am not an artist. I’ve never painted before in my life. It was very therapeutic for me. It took me to a different place,” Delacruz said.
Like other major franchises nationwide, Shades of Color is a smaller startup with a studio based in Stockton. The business started as a mobile paint-to-canvas event, partnering with local businesses, before the new studio opened last November.
Delacruz said their business offers more creative ideas and a more flexible event schedule at the studio.
“Our customers can paint on wine glasses and ceramics at the studio,” Delacruz said. “We work with local artists for all of our events. People feel more relaxed when they come in, and are encouraged to bring their own drinks.”
The major franchise chains influence the industry, including Painting with a Twist, Pinot’s Palette, Wine and Design and Paint Nite.
More established franchises can cover a larger area in California, partnering with key businesses that provide food and drinks. Paint Nite gained momentum in the Central Valley, and specifically caters its events to the night-time crowd. Danine Soliven, a local artist in Stockton, started with the company in 2014.
“We cover all of the Central Valley. I’ve done events in Modesto, Tracy, Lodi and an event for Google in Yosemite,” Soliven said.
Her licensee trained her as an assistant before handing over the reins to teach the class. Soliven emphasized the importance of art, and said that exposure to the arts can help people find a new avenue to express themselves.
“People use it as therapy, and I have a lot of returning clients who are comfortable with my style,” Soliven said. “I struggled with public speaking and communication, so this was a way to challenge myself and improve in front of a larger audience.”
Paint Nite helped build positive reinforcement for Soliven and created an opportunity for the local artist to showcase her craft to the community.
“I had to create a video demonstrating my skill, and then meet for an interview. I did not think anyone would pay me to show people how to paint,” Soliven said. “It was too good to be true, I thought, until I went to an event.”
Artists get to create their own painting for each event and send it off to headquarters for approval before they post it on social media.
Another local Stockton artist, Shawn Alfaro, expressed similar thoughts about the importance of art, how the industry elevates local talent and is creating a social experience that can provide therapy for clients.
Alfaro’s experience with Paint Nite is comparable to Soliven’s. He said her training helped him focus on time management and effective public speaking when addressing the crowd.
“I became a better speaker. I focus on the positive aspects of art with each class,” Alfaro said. “I want to help them learn [to] develop their own skill. We have returning clients who use this as an outlet for therapy, and enjoy their time learning from me. I am your biggest cheerleader.”
Exposure to the arts is a constant theme during discussions with local artists, including Dru Hunt, founder of The Stockton Art Lab on the Miracle Mile. Hunt was unaware of the paint party trend when he opened his lab last year, and described his take on art in the community.
“I want to expose the general public to art. We need to embrace people doing art. Our focus is not on paint parties, but we offer smaller events for kids to do art,” Hunt said.
Hunt believes if the lab actively creates a connection with local artists, he can create a safe place to practice art, which generates an interest to the public to visit and meet local talent.
“We can have art on display and create pieces here. The artist can then sell their art and the public can come down and purchase these pieces to support the local talent,” Hunt said.
The benefits resonate across the Central Valley, as these businesses foster growth for artists and provide the community with more art throughout the city.
“There are people who never painted before and create some amazing paintings. I encourage them to keep going. We need more artists,” Alfaro said. “We need more art in this world because this world is very bland without it. Without art, what are we fighting for?”